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Oddity in the Revised Mass Translation

by Ian on May 3, 2012

My dad is working on a project involving the antiphons for the Mass and noticed a rather odd translation change. For the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time the introit used to read:

Lord, be true to your covenant, forget not the life of your poor ones for ever. Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; do not ignore the shouts of your enemies.

Now it reads:

Look to your covenant, O Lord, and forget not the life of your poor ones for ever. Arise, O God, and defend your cause, and forget not the cries of those who seek you.

The referenced Bible verses are Psalm 74: 20, 19, 22, 23

Now, I'm not Fr. Z, but it seems that the meaning of this antiphon has been completely changed. Further, if you look at the actual Bible passages referenced, unless those seeking God are His enemies, the new version is completely different from what's actually in the Bible as well. Thoughts?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Doc Kimble May 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

The first translation is a plea for God to answer a call to battle, perfectly appropriate for Catholics to ask that on the day of battle, which would be every day for the last 2,000 years….we are the Church Militant, after all….

The second translation is an invention….unless those who seek God are somehow to be understood to be those seeking to kill Him, as you’ve said…another situation extant for 2,000 years, but more so lately than at other times….


Naomi Stout May 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I believe the meaning has been completely changed. Arise indicates that some one is in bed or lying down- Arise–get up and go look….. To ‘rise up’ as in anger and defend (not look to and “inspect”). Also, those that seek you, in my opinion, are the good souls trying to find God to follow him, NOT his enemies who want to destroy him.
To defend his cause he would have to listen to the SHOUT’s of his enemies and make reaction to them.
I’m not putting it very well but the meaning is totally different.


Katherine May 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Very interesting indeed. “Enemies” and “those who seek You” seems utterly opposite. I’m certainly confuzzled.


steve May 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm

It is completely changed. I would question the motives of it, considering this period in time. I would also like to see who did it and what his theology is like.


James May 4, 2012 at 5:00 am

Here is an analysis if the Hebrew for verse 23. It does appear that it should read “enemies” or “adversaries”. But the new translation is to be more faithful to the Latin, not to the Hebrew. It may just be a translation mistake in the Vulgate.


Ian May 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

The strange thing is that both the Douay and the NAB and the RSV all have the correct translation so is it actually the Vulgate that is off or did they just create the Latin introit out of thin air?


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